Small Beer from Barossa purveys porcine produce
FOODDetective had a spring in her step as she went to meet Saskia Beer, daughter of South Australian food legend Maggie. Pink-haired Beer arrived clutching a range of charcuterie from her new The Black-Pig label, handmade from heritage-breed Black Berkshire pigs, said to produce the best pork in the world due to the fine marbling of its meat, rather like a porcine equivalent of Wagyu beef.
Beer discovered it when she met local farmers Colin and Joy Leinert at a Slow Food event in the Barossa four years ago. Colin won his first porker in a pigchasing competition and a business was born. Black Berkshire pork is ‘‘ sweet, slightly nutty, has no greasy mouth-feel and has vastly superior marbling and fat levels . . . it’s just made for smallgoods’’, says Beer. Fittingly, her Black-Pig label (products from which have already been picked up by the likes of Sydney’s Billy Kwong and Icebergs restaurants) includes salamis, hams, bacon, prosciutto and chorizo, and it’s now being distributed across Australia. (08) 8562 3100; www.barossafarmproduce.com.
There’s a pancetta to come in a couple of months and suckling pig hams will be released for Christmas. Detective can’t wait. In addition to her charcuterie range, Beer has been expanding on the home front. Barossa Farm Produce, which she runs with sister Elli, is about to open a new function centre. ‘‘ We’ll be supplying all the produce for events: Barossa Chooks, lamb, pork, smoked duck and the like,’’ she tells Detective . And the first big event scheduled? A vegan wedding. What were they thinking?
WHENit comes to pork, television chef and restaurateur Pete Evans is also something of an aficionado. A pork belly, sweet and sour onions and radicchio offering helped his Hugos Bar Pizza at Sydney’s Kings Cross take out the world’s best pizza gong in New York in 2005. So it’s encouraging to see that Evans and his Hugos Group partners are expanding their empire, too. Last week marked the opening of Hugos Manly, a bright and breezy beachhouse styled restaurant with a 10m bar at Sydney’s Manly Wharf. The 300-seater with outdoor dining (twice the size of its Kings Cross sibling) is expected to become one of Manly’s hottest new hangouts.
That famous pizza features on the extensive modern Italian menu, alongside the likes of an appealingsounding 12-hour braised lamb shank. www.hugos.com.au.
RESTAURANT & Catering NSW chief executive Robert Goldman has launched a withering attack on the NSW Food Authority’s new naming and shaming scheme, in which restaurants and food outlets breaching health and hygiene laws are listed on the authority’s website. Television chef Bill Granger’s restaurant at Sydney’s Darlinghurst, Bills, was singled out for not having a thermometer in its fridge. ‘‘( Does) the public really think they are being well protected because the Food Authority is telling them Bills doesn’t have a thermostat?’’ Goldman tells Detective .
His industry organisation has been lobbying the state government for nine years to introduce safe food handling regulations.
He says the authority would do far better to focus its attention on the lack of regulation of those setting up restaurants. ‘‘ If the Government is serious about (food safety standards), why don’t they bring in mandatory safe food-handling regulations and training for everybody in the food service industry?
‘‘ If you were a hairdresser, you would have to get a licence. Same as if you were an accountant, a plumber, an electrician or anything else. You need nothing to become a restaurateur in this state: only the willingness to lose a few hundred thousand dollars or the ability to find someone who’s willing to lend it to you and lose it themselves,’’ he says.
A BIT of controversy from abroad now. Detective can stomach most things — she positively lunges for the chicken’s feet on a yum cha trolley and never met a dish of tripe she didn’t like — but even she had to reach for the smelling salts after reading that TV chef Gordon Ramsay ate raw puffin heart while filming his new The FWord series in Iceland. British animal rights activists and viewers who watched the celeriac-faced chef eat the seabird’s heart after it was caught in an oversized butterfly net are up in arms. Detective is pleased to note that the creature managed to bite the potty-mouthed chef on the shnozz before it met its fate. Many others, she suspects, would have relished the opportunity.
MEANWHILE, another British cook behaving badly (unwittingly this time) is the gnomish Antony Worrall Thompson, who has extolled the virtues of a mysterious weed called henbane as a terrific ingredient to add to a salad. He later apologised to the readers of Britain’s Healthy&OrganicLiving magazine when it was pointed out that henbane was, in fact, toxic and could kill in extreme circumstances.
The befuddled chef clarified that he’d actually meant to recommend a wild herb called fat hen (perfectly edible, which is nice), not henbane, the name of which originates from the phrase ‘‘ killer of hens’’.
Worrall Thompson told the BBC the mix-up was ‘‘ embarrassing but one of those genuine mistakes’’. Detective steered clear of the side salad when she visited his Barnes Grill in southwest London earlier this month, just to be on the safe side. www.awtonline.co.uk. CONGRATULATIONS to this year’s
Restaurant Guide award-winners. Sydney’s Quay took top honours as 2009 restaurant of the year, while Victoria’s Royal Mail Hotel, in Dunkeld, was voted regional restaurant of the year. The best new restaurant gong went to Bistro Guillaume, in Melbourne. Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz of Sydney’s Bodega were named best new talent, while Liz Carey and Paul Guiney, of Sydney’s Universal, were